Whether you consider yourself a “Hot Nigga” or not doesn’t really matter at this point; Bobby Shmurda had the hottest song of the year (says who? Us). Earning major points for turning a backdrop originally used by Lloyd Banks into the carving of a Brooklyn-branded street rap lane, one song landed the rapper a major record deal. Front like you didn’t hit that Shmoney Dance more times than you anticipated, and you’re only lying to yourself.
Equal parts talented, enticing and unassuming, Tinashe is a breath of fresh air. While her DJ Mustard-produced and Schoolboy Q-assisted “2 On” served as the soundtrack to turn ups everywhere all year, the singer also released a solid body of work with Aquarius. An overall detour from the hit that caught your attention, the singing beauty’s debut album hits you with a crossover you won’t be mad at.
With Kendrick Lamar on the outskirts of rap for the greater part of the year, YG played a starring role in the hip-hop epic film, How The West Was Won. Dropping off one of the best albums of the year (yep, we said that too), documented Compton – excuse us, Bompton – life in a way his G’d up West Coast predecessors could be proud of. Major contribution to that Cali winning streak.
Ty Dolla $ign
Quit trying to pinpoint if Ty Dolla $ign is a singer or rapper, and start appreciating his notable contributions to your turn up this year. Without even dropping his debut album, the West Coast native takes on a vibe reminiscent of this generation’s Nate Dogg. Take the DJ Mustard backdrop or leave it, and Dolla $ign is still a money shot.
Liking Young Thug is an involuntary reaction of sorts. You don’t necessarily intend to mimic his barely-sensical whimpers, nor can you control his aim at you volume levels; it’s all an invasive experience. Even as you read this post, there is likely an inverse relationship between how many times you’ve played “Lifestyle,” and how much of the hook you actually understand. Kudos, Sir Thugger.
One might think that a cosign from Kanye West would be all and artists needs to gain their respect. That one – whomever they may be – would be wrong. Since earning a spot on Yeezy’s G.O.O.D. Music roster, Teyana Taylor has transitioned from the girl with the nice abs and clean J’s to a finally-blossomed R&B artist. And her VII debut places her right in the arena West envisioned.
Save your Adele comparisons, Sam Smith is an artful songsmith in his own right. While he will likely have a breakout year similar to that of his fellow UK-bred singer/songwriter, skating on a juxtaposition is not what will earn him that Grammy this year. Whether the time on you watch was In The Lonely Hour or not, Smith’s open wound of an opus will make you feel something – a feat your favorite singer struggled to accomplish in 2014.
FKA Twigs is more than an interesting visual. A necessary scenic route through the vulnerabilities of alternative R&B, the singer serves as another reason to be thankful to the UK. Doing, and singing, what she damn well pleases, lend her your ears and eyes - and she'll steal your respect.
It’s not everyday that a rapper creeps into the game with bars that rival your faves, but Logic is that every-once-in-a-while deviation from the same ole, same ole. With the help of No I.D., the DMV native joined the ranks of bi-racial kids with bars (see: Drake, J. Cole) with his Under Pressure album contending with hip-hop’s finest releases of the year.
You can avoid a pronunciation fail by not thanking them by name, but Rae Sremmurd is responsible for “No Flex Zone.” Another one of the year’s anthems that sprouted from a viral video, this Mississippi duo caught a no-look pass from Nicki Minaj for the remix. And now, Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy are out to set up shop in your head with “No Type.” Spins on fleek.